Cat Safety Means Happy Holidays

ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center alerts public to common holiday pet poisons.

ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center alerts public to common holiday pet poisons.

ASPCA warns cat owners of potential hazards during this Thanksgiving weekend and upcoming holiday season. Certain Thanksgiving treats and holiday decorations can pose dangers to cats.

Last year, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center managed 17,000 cases of dog and cat illness caused by human foods. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, causes a variety of symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rate and occasionally seizures. Cat owners should also be wary of sweeteners, such as xylitol, which cause a sudden drop in blood glucose.

Turkey, a favorite treat for cats and dogs, may contain bones that can splinter and cause blockages in the throat or digestive tract, in addition to causing stomach upset from grease and fat. Dog and cat owners must be extremely careful with any alcoholic beverages, as dogs and cats can potentially fall into a coma from drinking alcohol.

Protect pets against seemingly safe holiday decorations. Ribbons, tinsel, glass ornaments, as well as wires, cords, candles, and even Christmas tree water can all pose potential dangers to pets if left unattended.

In 2009, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center received 8,000 calls about potentially poisonous plants and flowers. Certain holiday plants are likely to cause serious damage such as lilies, which can cause kidney failure in cats. Holly and mistletoe can also be dangerous for cats and dogs alike, causing gastrointestinal upset or, in rare cases with mistletoe, cardiovascular problems. ASPCA veterinarians suggest non-toxic decorations, such as wood, fabric or even pinecones.

A persistent holiday myth insists that the poinsettia plant is toxic to cats and dogs. In reality, poinsettias cause only mild to moderate gastrointestinal irritation. Keeping it out of cats’ reach is still a good idea, but there’s no need to banish it altogether.

If your dog or cat accidentally ingests a potentially toxic substance this holiday season, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 for immediate assistance.

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